Pornography, addiction, prefrontal cortex, brain, neurology


Pornography use has exponentially increased in the past 10 years. Most believe pornography use is largely a harmless behavior. Although sexuality is innate, hyper-sexual behavior, such as pornography use, has become increasingly commonplace. Addiction research has found that long-term substance addiction contributes to changes in brain volume (Hong et al., 2013; Zhou et al., 2011). Recent studies have shown that behavioral addictions also have similar volume loss as substance abuse (Hong et al., 2013). Research has shown that the particular area most affected is the prefrontal cortex (Hong et al., 2013). The prefrontal cortex, which oversees regulating self-control, decreases in size when exhibiting addictive behaviors (Hong et al., 2013). The cause of behavioral addictions like pornography addiction comes from prefrontal cortex areas such as the DLPFC, vlPFC, and vmPFC (Zhou et al., 2011). This effect on the prefrontal cortex has been shown to be particularly marked in participants with pornography addiction (Kühn & Gallinat, 2014). Pornography use has been shown to decrease the gray matter of the prefrontal cortex compared to baseline, thereby decreasing decision making. This affect to the cortices dedicated to decision making and self-control may contribute to why pornography use can be addictive.